Tag Archives: December

Premier League Rewind: 22nd-23rd December 2017

Results: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool FC, Everton 0-0 Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Watford, Manchester City 4-0 AFC Bournemouth, Southampton 1-1 Huddersfield Town, Stoke City 3-1 West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City 1-1 Crystal Palace, West Ham United 2-3 Newcastle United, Burnley 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United

The final weekend of Premier League action before Christmas 2017 certainly didn’t disappoint. It started with one of the matches of the season. Goals were almost a certain guarantee as Arsenal and Liverpool FC went head-to-head at The Emirates Stadium to kick-start the weekend.

The Sky Sports Friday Night Football audience were treated to an entertaining spectacle full of great attacking football and some costly mistakes by both goalkeepers. Liverpool dominated the first half and deservedly led at half-time through Philippe Coutinho’s header. Mohamed Salah extended the advantage shortly after half-time before Arsenal burst into life with three goals in a devastating six-minute spell. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both scored either side of a Granit Xhaka long-distance shot which Simon Mignolet completely misjudged the flight of. Petr Cech also made a critical error, parrying Roberto Firmino’s strike into his own net with 20 minutes left to play. This meant the match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, keeping the Reds one point clear of the Gunners in the table.

Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the table to 13 points after recording their 17th successive victory, thumping AFC Bournemouth 4-0 at The Etihad Stadium. Sergio Aguero added another two goals to his growing collection and it meant Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to score 100 goals in the calendar year. With back-to-back 4-0 losses, Eddie Howe’s Cherries would spend Christmas Day in the bottom three.

Second-placed Manchester United lost further ground after conceding a late equaliser to Harry Maguire and Leicester City. In an exciting contest at The King Power Stadium, Riyad Mahrez played through Jamie Vardy to score his 50th Premier League goal before a Juan Mata brace either side of half-time put the Red Devils into a 2-1 lead. Daniel Amartey received his marching orders for two yellow cards but 10-man Leicester never gave up and Maguire’s intervention in the fourth minute of stoppage-time kept their excellent run going. Claude Puel had lost just two of his 10 matches’ in-charge as Foxes boss.

Tottenham Hotspur moved from seventh into fifth spot after Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in Spurs’ 3-0 victory at Turf Moor over Burnley. Kane’s treble saw him equal Alan Shearer’s long-standing record of most goals in a Premier League calendar year. He would have one more chance to break the record against Southampton on Boxing Day.

The Saints’ own form was questionable to say the least. Virgil van Dijk was now completely out-of-favour with manager Mauricio Pellegrino and his side now went six games without a win after drawing 1-1 at home to Huddersfield Town. Charlie Austin scored his fifth goal in seven matches but was later charged by the FA with violent conduct and limped off injured too. He would be out of action for several months.

It was Swansea City who would spend Christmas Day bottom of the table, despite getting a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace. It was the first meeting at The Liberty Stadium between the teams since the previous season’s encounter which ended 5-4 to Swansea. Unsurprisingly, this fixture lacked the excitement of the 2016-2017 match but Jordan Ayew’s equaliser was a positive tonic for interim boss Leon Britton, who was filling in after Paul Clement’s dismissal earlier in the week. West Bromwich Albion completed the bottom three after a 3-1 defeat to Stoke City. Alan Pardew was still winless five games into his reign as Baggies boss.

What else happened in December 2017?

  • One of Theresa May’s closest allies, Damian Green, resigns from the government after an investigation finds he made “inaccurate and misleading” statements regarding pornography on a computer in his Commons office.
  • The United States officially recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • Following an investigation into state-sponsored doping, Russia is banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics by the IOC.
  • For $66 billion, The Walt Disney Company announces that it will acquire most of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox film studio.
  • Coventry is named as the UK City of Culture for the year 2021.
  • Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo beats Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas to win the 17th series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
  • Sir Mo Farah is the surprising winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2017.



Memorable Matches: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool FC (December 2017)

Goalscorers: Philippe Coutinho 26, Mohamed Salah 52, Alexis Sanchez 53, Granit Xhaka 56, Mesut Ozil 58, Roberto Firmino 71


Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal (Shkodran Mustafi 45) Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi (Danny Welbeck 78), Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez (Theo Walcott 89)

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson (James Milner 13), Philippe Coutinho (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 84), Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane (Georginio Wijnaldum 80), Mohamed Salah

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 59,409

The build-up in the months leading up to this match between Arsenal and Liverpool FC was when the fixture would be played. The initial plan by Sky Sports and the Premier League was for this match to take place on Christmas Eve. After plenty of opposition from visiting supporters, the game was eventually moved to a Friday night. It turned out to be wonderful pre-Christmas entertainment.

Liverpool had been in devastating form away from Anfield since caving in 4-1 on their last trip to north London against Tottenham Hotspur but Arsenal had only been beaten at home once all season and that had been a recent loss to Manchester United. It was the visitors who did all of the pressing throughout the opening exchanges despite losing skipper Jordan Henderson to an early injury. Roberto Firmino came close to scoring with two headers. It was third time lucky with the heading attempts for the Reds on 26 minutes. Mohamed Salah’s cross came off Laurent Koscielny right into the path of Philippe Coutinho who looped a header over Cech to open the scoring. It would be his last-ever away goal for Liverpool FC. The Brazilian was destined for a January move to Barcelona.

Liverpool had other chances to extend the lead before half-time with Salah missing a golden opportunity of his own on the stroke of the interval. However, the Egyptian would make no mistake in the 51st minute. Played through by Firmino, he twisted and turned his way past half-time substitute Shkodran Mustafi and his shot deflected off the German, giving Cech no chance of saving.

Arsenal managed just seven touches inside Liverpool’s penalty area throughout the first 45 minutes but showed their attacking instincts in a second half blitz which turned the game completely around. The revival began just over 60 seconds after conceding the second goal. Hector Bellerin picked out Alexis Sanchez at the back post and the Chilean made no mistake from close-range, taking advantage of Joe Gomez ball-watching to head past Simon Mignolet.

Mignolet had no chance of stopping Sanchez’s goal but he should have done a lot better with Arsenal’s equaliser. Granit Xhaka tried his luck from distance and whilst there was some movement in the air, Mignolet completely misjudged the strike which ended up in the back of the net. It would turn out to be a telling moment in the Belgian’s season. He would lose his place in the team permanently less than a month later. Moments later, Arsenal were ahead. Mesut Ozil played a neat one-two with Alexandre Lacazette and scooped the ball over the onrushing Mignolet to complete an astonishing turnaround. They’d scored three goals in five minutes.

It wasn’t enough though for the three points. Firmino’s shot was saved by Cech but he could only watch in horror as the ball span into the back of the net. It was the least Liverpool deserved. Both teams had chances to win the match in the last 20 minutes but the honours would be shared after a pulsating start to the Christmas 2017 programme in the Premier League.

Iconic Moments: Record-breaking Harry (December 2017)

2017-2018 was a record-breaking season for Harry Kane. Although he would ultimately miss out on a third consecutive Golden Boot to Liverpool FC’s Mohamed Salah, Kane reached the landmark of 30 league goals in a season for the first time.

He also became Tottenham Hotspur’s leading all-time Premier League goalscorer, surpassing Teddy Sheringham’s total in January 2018 and a month later, his stoppage-time penalty to earn a point at Anfield saw Kane enter the 100 Club for Premier League goals. He looks like the most serious challenger to Alan Shearer’s all-time leading total of 260.

His biggest achievement though was breaking one of Shearer’s long-standing records. In Tottenham’s final league match of 2017, Kane scored a hat-trick in Spurs 5-2 Boxing Day thumping of struggling Southampton. His header to open the scoring in the 22nd minute was a piece of Premier League history. It was Kane’s 37th league goal of the calendar year, surpassing Shearer’s tally of 36 which he achieved in 1995 when he was at Blackburn Rovers.

Kane also took his tally for the year to 56 for Tottenham and England, achieving a higher goal total than Lionel Messi. There was no silverware in 2017 but it was an amazing year for Kane who ended the season as Three Lions captain, guiding England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Premier League Rewind: 26th December 2004

Results: Arsenal 2-0 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa, Crystal Palace 0-1 Portsmouth, Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic, Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Newcastle United, Everton 2-1 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers, Norwich City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City 2-0 Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC

The festive period in the Premier League has always been a joyous period for fans and on Boxing Day 2004, the action was as intense as ever.

Chelsea were the league leaders and were looking to protect or even increase their five-point advantage over the defending champions Arsenal. The Blues beat Aston Villa 1-0 on a cold lunchtime afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Damien Duff’s strike after 30 minutes was enough to keep Jose Mourinho’s team clear at the top of the table. Villa had now lost four of their last five outings and slipped into the realms of mid-table after a promising start to the campaign.

Arsenal kept the pressure on, digging in after a tricky November which had seen them drop points against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion and lose at Anfield to Liverpool FC. Thierry Henry opened the scoring in the 12th minute of their 2-0 victory over Fulham and Robert Pires added a second with both goals being set-up by Freddie Ljungberg. Fulham had lost 11 of their 18 league matches and were just four points clear of the relegation zone.

Considered as one of the relegation favourites at the start of the season, Everton had already reached the usual magical safety mark of 40 points when they defeated Manchester City 2-1. Tim Cahill scored for the second time in the season against the Citizens and although Robbie Fowler equalised on his return to Merseyside, Marcus Bent’s 63rd minute strike settled the contest. City’s defeat was confirmed by Christian Negouai’s late red card.

The team with no form whatsoever at this stage in the season were Bolton Wanderers. Since drawing at Stamford Bridge, Bolton went on a six-game losing streak. The fifth of these came at Old Trafford where Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both scored in a 2-0 victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. The only negative on the afternoon for United was Wayne Rooney being caught on-camera striking out at Bolton defender Tal Ben-Haim. Whilst there was a clear overreaction to the contact from the Israeli defender, Rooney was charged with violent conduct and eventually banned for three matches. Ferguson was livid with the charge, even though the club accepted his fate. He said the FA’s disciplinary system was “completely flawed” and “immoral.”

If Ferguson was annoyed, his former skipper, Bryan Robson was having a very tough Christmas. West Bromwich Albion were bottom of the table and had lost their last four games. With just one win all season, Baggies supporters were getting the sense of déjà vu. Relegation was looking likely if you went with history and a 5-0 home battering from Liverpool FC on Boxing Day made the situation even worse. Liverpool had only won once all season away from Anfield but took full advantage of the situation to record their biggest victory since Rafa Benitez became manager. John Arne Riise was the star with two goals and Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored his first Premier League goal in a full calendar year.

What else happened in December 2004?

  • The world is left stunned by the devastating Asian tsunami that strikes coastal areas of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and the Maldives. This was triggered by an earthquake within the Indian Ocean. Over 200,000 people are killed.
  • After nearly four years in the role, David Blunkett resigns as Home Secretary.
  • £26.5 million is stolen from a Northern Bank in Belfast after one of the biggest robberies in modern day Britain.
  • Double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes is named as the 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • The first series of ‘The X-Factor’ concludes with victory for Steve Brookstein.
  • 194 people are killed after a fire in a nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • France shows off the world’s tallest bridge. The Millau Viaduct is officially opened.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-6th December 1999

Results: Aston Villa 0-1 Newcastle United, Bradford City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 0-3 Arsenal, Manchester United 5-1 Everton, Southampton 0-0 Coventry City, Sunderland 4-1 Chelsea, Wimbledon 5-0 Watford, Derby County 0-1 Leeds United, Liverpool FC 4-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 West Ham United

December 1999 was the final month of the 20th century and the 1999-2000 season was a campaign that was seeing plenty of goals and a lot of drama too. On this particular weekend, fans at Premier League grounds up-and-down the country would see either no goals at all or a host of efforts hitting the back of the net.

The league leaders going into the weekend were David O’Leary young, exciting Leeds United side. Leeds had lost just one of their last 12 matches and been top of the table since early October. They travelled to Derby County looking to protect their narrow advantage over Manchester United. This was the repeat round of fixtures from the opening weekend of the season and for the second time in the campaign; it looked like Derby were going to get a goalless draw.

Then, referee Paul Alcock gave a slightly fortuitous penalty to the away side and Ian Harte dispatched the spot-kick to give the visitors a narrow 1-0 win and regain their two-point cushion at the head of the Premier League table.

Manchester United had spent a day at the summit after thumping Everton 5-1 at Old Trafford. For the second time in 1999, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored four times in a match as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side turned on the style in their first game back since winning the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo.

Arsenal and Sunderland kept their challenges going with convincing wins. Arsenal enjoyed a good victory at Filbert Street; a ground which had caused them trouble in previous seasons. Marc Overmars was among the scorers in the 3-0 victory, although Leicester would later get revenge by knocking Arsene Wenger’s side out of the FA Cup two months later.

Sunderland’s season had been built around a deadly strike partnership and they tore Chelsea apart at The Stadium of Light. Both Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips scored twice as they raced into a 4-0 lead before half-time. Gianluca Vialli’s side were eventually beaten 4-1 and were miles off the pace. Since beating Manchester United 5-0 in early October, Chelsea had won just one of their last seven matches, slipped to ninth in the table and were now 14 points off the pace.

Liverpool FC recovered from conceding an early goal to Niclas Alexandersson of Sheffield Wednesday, eventually overcoming the league’s bottom side 4-1. This game was notable for the first goal in a Liverpool shirt for a youngster by the name of Steven Gerrard. He would score another 185 goals in all competitions for the club he cared about the most. With just one win from 16 games, Sheffield Wednesday’s situation already looked rather desperate.

They were joined in the bottom three by Derby County and Watford. Graham Taylor’s men were on the receiving end of a 5-0 thrashing by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. This scoreline was Wimbledon’s biggest victory in their Premier League career and had them closer to mid-table than the drop zone at this stage of the season. Their downward plight would only begin in the new millennium.

What else happened in December 1999?

  • Celebrations take place across the world to herald the millennium. In the UK, this sees the unveiling of the London Eye and the opening of the Millennium Dome.
  • After eight years in power, Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia.
  • Former Beatles singer George Harrison is attacked in his home in Oxfordshire, suffering minor stab wounds.
  • After 442 years of Portuguese settlement, the sovereignty of Macau is transferred to the People’s Republic of China.
  • Tori Murden became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat alone, when she reached Guadeloupe from the Canary Islands. She had been rowing for 81 days.
  • 137 people are killed by Storm Lothar which sweeps through southern parts of Germany, France and Switzerland.
  • Torrential rains cause catastrophic floods and mudslides in coastal regions of Venezuela, killing an estimated 25,000 people and leaving 100,000 others homeless.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-19th December 2016

Results: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Middlesbrough 3-0 Swansea City, Stoke City 2-2 Leicester City, Sunderland 1-0 Watford, West Ham United 1-0 Hull City, West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Southampton, Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Burnley, Everton 0-1 Liverpool FC

The final round of Premier League matches before Christmas 2016 saw 23 goals and the first managerial casualty of the season.

In a London derby, Chelsea and Crystal Palace got the weekend underway, with both sides in completely contrasting form. Palace had won just one match since the end of September, whilst Chelsea were chasing a 10th successive league victory. The league leaders were in impressive form and this was one of those matches where they weren’t quite at their fluid best but still did enough to collect all three points. Diego Costa headed home the only goal in the Blues’ 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park. The Spaniard later collected his fifth yellow card of the season, so would miss the Boxing Day encounter with AFC Bournemouth, as would N’Golo Kante. It was the final straw for the Eagles’ hierarchy and five days after this result, Alan Pardew was sacked and replaced by survival specialist, Sam Allardyce.

Chelsea’s closest challengers remained Liverpool FC. Jurgen Klopp’s team protected second spot in the table after they won 1-0 in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, which was the final fixture before Christmas. On a chilly Monday evening, the visitors’ struck late on through Sadio Mane to ensure the red side of Merseyside would hold the bragging rights over the festive period.

24 hours earlier, Manchester City made it back-to-back victories with a 2-1 success over Arsenal, who had now suffered successive defeats in the North West. Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and Theo Walcott put them ahead inside the first 10 minutes. However, Leroy Sane’s first Premier League goal and Raheem Sterling’s effort ensured the three points would stay in Manchester.

Tottenham were quietly going about their business. They beat Burnley 2-1 at White Hart Lane and Manchester United made it three wins in six days, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic the pivotal difference in their 2-0 victory at The Hawthorns over West Bromwich Albion.

At the wrong end of the table and West Ham United collected a second win in four days at the London Stadium but there was plenty of fortune about their 1-0 win over fellow relegation strugglers, Hull City. Hull hit the woodwork three times and the Hammers’ fans were so fed up with their team’s performance, they voted for the post as their Man of the Match on social media! Mark Noble’s penalty saw them take three lucky points.

Sunderland claimed a 1-0 triumph at home to inconsistent Watford. Patrick van Aanholt scored the solitary goal. It would be the Dutchman’s last in Sunderland colours. The full-back would move acrimoniously to Crystal Palace in the January transfer window. It would also turn out to be Sunderland’s last home victory in league football in 364 days, before a recent 1-0 win over Fulham in the SkyBet EFL Championship.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough recorded their biggest win of the season, beating hapless Swansea City 3-0 and despite losing Jamie Vardy to a red card before half-time, defending champions Leicester City came back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw away to Stoke City. Claudio Ranieri’s side though still hadn’t won away from the King Power Stadium in their title defence season.

What else happened in December 2016?

  • Aged 53, George Michael died on Christmas Day. One of the best-selling music artists of all-time, he had sold more than 115 million records worldwide.
  • Andy Murray wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time in four years.
  • The remains of Tim Peake’s spacecraft are bought by the UK with the intention of installing it at the Science Museum in London in 2017.
  • After 30 years with ITN, Mark Austin presents his final news bulletin with ITV. He will join Sky News as the main correspondent for the USA.
  • Among the recipients in the New Years’ Honours List are Ken Dodd who is knighted and actress Helen McCrory, who receives an OBE.
  • Gogglebox’s Scarlett Moffatt wins the ITV reality show, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”
  • Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, is assassinated in Ankara.

Iconic Moments: Phil Brown’s half-time dressing down (December 2008)

Hull City were a breath of fresh air into the Premier League in the early weeks of the 2008-2009 season. They won on the opening weekend at home to Fulham and then pulled off a famous London away double in successive weekends against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. They even were joint-top in late October after a 3-0 away triumph at West Bromwich Albion.

By Boxing Day, results had dried up slightly but the Tigers’ still sat in a creditable seventh spot in the table – only behind the traditional big four teams plus Aston Villa and Everton. They travelled to Manchester City, hoping to pull off another away scalp. This trip won’t be remembered for a shock result though.

Mark Hughes’ side were rampant in the first half and led at the interval 4-0. Stephen Ireland was in sparkling form, setting up three of the goals as Felipe Caicedo (2), Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips all found the back of the net. Hull were simply not at the races and manager Phil Brown was incensed with their opening 45 minutes.

So, rather than take out his fury behind closed doors, he took his players over to the supporters at the visiting end of the ground and furiously berated them for everyone to see. This must have been public humiliation for the players as Brown was seen wagging his finger at various individuals for several minutes. They did improve in the second half but still lost the game 5-1. Afterwards, Brown defended his decision to carry out his team talk in the public eye. He told the BBC: “I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead. Our 4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room. We owed them an apology for the first half performance.”

That decision seemed to have a negative effect on the rest of Hull’s season. They won just one more match all campaign in the Premier League and only managed to avoid relegation by a single point.

A year later, Hull returned to Eastlands and performed far better to leave with a 1-1 draw. Jimmy Bullard’s penalty ensured they would return to east Yorkshire with a point and he decided to mimic Brown’s team talk in a hilarious celebration that luckily, everyone saw the funny side of!

Premier League Rewind: 7th-9th December 1996

Results: Arsenal 2-2 Derby County, Chelsea 2-2 Everton, Coventry City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool FC 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United, Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa, Sunderland 1-3 Wimbledon, West Ham United 2-2 Manchester United, Nottingham Forest 0-0 Newcastle United

The first full weekend of December’s programme in the 1996-1997 season threw up some interesting results in a season when none of the elite sides seemed happy to take complete control of the title race.

Going into the weekend, it was Arsenal who were top of the table and all this less than two months since Arsene Wenger had been installed as the new manager at Highbury. They nearly came up a cropper at home to newly-promoted Derby County. Dean Sturridge scored a stunning goal for the Rams’ and going into stoppage time; they were 2-1 infront. Patrick Vieira rescued a point for the leaders and they stayed top of the table thanks to other results.

Liverpool FC could have gone top with that result but they missed the opportunity with a first home defeat of the season. Sheffield Wednesday went to Anfield and recorded an impressive 1-0 victory in a fine campaign for David Pleat’s side that saw them finish in the top seven. Guy Whittingham’s 22nd minute goal was the winning effort on Merseyside.

Newcastle United’s winless run stretched to four matches following a goalless draw with bottom-placed Nottingham Forest on Monday Night Football. Kevin Keegan’s side had failed to cash in on their fabulous 5-0 victory over Manchester United. It was just one win in six matches in the league since.

Manchester United’s form and confidence had taken a significant knock since the Newcastle result. They had returned from a successful trip to Vienna in midweek which had seen the club just about progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Perhaps the travelling caught up with them in the Super Sunday clash at Upton Park with West Ham United. David Beckham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put them 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go but the Hammers’ rallied to take a spirited point. Florian Raducioiu had a miserable time in east London but his goal in this match was a rare highlight.

All this meant that Wimbledon moved into second spot in the table. Having lost their first three matches, Joe Kinnear’s side were on a club-record unbeaten run which had included a seven-game winning sequence in early autumn. Dean Holdsworth scored the pick of the goals in their latest win; a 3-1 triumph at Roker Park over Sunderland.

There was a landmark reached at The Dell where Southampton played Aston Villa. In the 34th minute, Andy Townsend scored the only goal of the game to earn all three points for Villa. That might not sound remarkable but it was the Premier League’s 5000th goal. Chris Sutton has tried to claim that mark as he scored at almost the same time of Blackburn’s 1-1 draw at Leicester City but records show his goal was registered in the 33rd minute, one minute earlier than Townsend’s winner on the south coast.

Lastly, Gianfranco Zola scored his first Premier League goal in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton. The Italian had arrived from Serie A and a trademark free-kick was the first of many magical moments in a Chelsea shirt.

What else happened in December 1996?

  • Kofi Annan is elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • Apple Computers buys out Steve Jobs’ company, NeXT. Apple was of course co-founded by Mr Jobs.
  • The largest strike in South Korean history begins.
  • Unemployment in the UK falls below two million for the first time since John Major became Prime Minister.
  • Damon Hill becomes only the third person to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year twice.